Treviso recorded a come-from-behind 16-15 win in the Magners League as they defeated Aironi for the second time in a week on Friday.
The match went down to the wire with Aironi failing twice, in the final three minutes, with their chances to win the game.
Julian Laharrague nudged a drop-kick wide with no time on the clock remaining. This after Tito Tebaldi had done the same from a place kick three minutes earlier, albeit from forty yards out and with a tight angle, will have left Aironi thinking about what really should have been.
The game was an entertaining battle and a vastly greater spectacle than the match a week earlier in Treviso, which was won 15-10 at home by Treviso in a deluge. The fear that must have been present for Giancarlo Dondi and the FIR coming into this match was that after three months of exposure to Magners League rugby the two franchises would revert to type and play out a slugfest that betrays the standards and quality expected of a Magners League side.
Thankfully that didn't happen and a near capacity crowd witnessed a high level game of rugby.
Treviso opted to pick the new starlet of Italian rugby, Tommaso Benvenuti, on the wing rather than at his natural position of inside centre. That role was given to the much larger framed Gonzalo Garcia. As a result Benvenuti saw little action but Garcia weighed in with some heavy runs and tackles that justified his inclusion and must also put his hat in the ring for Six Nations selection.
Both sides started the match tentatively, despite the perfect conditions for running rugby; firm under foot with only the slightest of breezes.
A missed kick apiece from Tito Tebaldi and his opponent with the boot, Kristopher Burton,were as close as both sides came to putting points on the board in the opening twenty minutes.
Principally it was the kick and chase that characterised the opening period but after that had been dispensed with the game opened up. First Burton pulled the Aironi defence one way and the right winger Nitoglia dashed through the hole and sped off up-field. A lack of support meant that despite having rounded most of the covering defence the attack ground to a halt.
Immediately Aironi responded and learning from Treviso's mistakes, they attacked in numbers. Laharrague broke through down the right hand side of the pitch, cheered on madly by the home fans who lined the right hand touchline he sought support from the openside Krause who then fed Josh Sole and the internationally out-of-favour blindside stretched for the line and made it.
Treviso then looked more purposeful and fashioned a kickable penalty kick right on the stroke of half-time which Burton made no mistake with to make the score 8-6. Aironi's discipline this season has been their Achilles heel and in the first half both Giulio Toniolatti and Marco Bortolami were sent to the cooler whereas for Treviso only the full-back Brendan Williams saw yellow.
When Bortaloami returned from the bin early in the second half, his presence was felt straight away, popping up in the back line to put fly-half James Marshall into the clear. Brendan Williams bundled him into touch, but the pocket full-back was powerless to stop Aironi's pack from forcing referee Pascal Gauzere to award a penalty try after the Treviso 8 were pushed backwards in consecutive scrums.
The subsequent conversion from under the sticks caused no problem for Tebaldi and the scoreboard settled at 15-6.
Treviso then started their comeback proper. Consistent field position in the Aironi's 22 and at least occasional parity in the scrum allowed them to fashion a seven pointer.
Aironi's three-quarters will have to take the blame for it however as a foolhardy attack proposed by Laharrague and seconded and thirded by Tebaldi and Krause gave Treviso possession of the ball and several phases later the scrum-half Tobias Botes off-loaded from a half break to lock Corniel Van-Zyl to dot down.
Treviso then crucially didn't let up. They marched down the field and won a penalty, kicked by Burton, to sneak ahead 16-15 with 15 minutes to go Aironi responded with a sense of injustice at how Treviso had chipped away at their lead to be leading themselves and threw everything they had at the Bianco-verdi.
With four minutes to go Giulio Toniolatti, desperately starved of the ball all game, hoisted it up in the air and launched himself to re-claim it with all
his frustrated energy. He and Williams collided heavily in mid-air and the dislodged ball was picked up by a Trevisian forward in an off-side position.
The result was that Tebaldi was given the ball and the tee and the chance to win the game. From forty metres out and a difficult angle, the youngster failed to bring the ball round enough. The Aironi carried on regardless and through their hard-work they engineered a position for Laharrague to perhaps snatch victory. That didn't happen though and the pride of Italian rugby can rest, once again, in Treviso.
Tries: Sole, Penalty
Try: Van Zyl
Pen: Botes 2, Burton
Aironi: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Rodd Penney, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Matteo Pratichetti, 10 James Marshall, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Gareth Krause, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys (capt), 4 Marco Bortolami, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 3 Fabio Staibano, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Luca Redolfini, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Carlo Del Fava, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Pablo Canavosio, 22 Gilberto Pavan, 23 Paolo Bu.
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Alberto Sgarbi, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (capt), 3 Pedro Di Santo, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Augusto Allori, 19 Valerio Bernaḅ, 20 Marco Filippucci, 21 Willem De Waal, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Benjamin De Jager.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (FFR)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Penne, Matteo Liperini (both FIR)
TMO: Giulio de Santis (FIR)
By Jack Zorab at Stadio Zaffanella